| Wed 26/04/2017 - 13:29 EDT

How Does Kentucky Derby Betting Work

How Does Kentucky Derby Betting Work

KY Derby Wagering Explained

The single factor that makes any horse race more exciting to wager upon is the prospect of making money - and lots of it. With 20 betting interests routinely entering the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby, there are simply more ways for the public's money to be divided resulting in far more enticing odds than a regular day at the track. This, along with massively inflated wagering pools, make it possible to score bigger in the Derby than in any other race run throughout the year. 

Two recent winners - Animal Kingdom in 2011 and I'll Have Another in 2012 - illustrate this point to perfection. Both runners came to Churchill Downs with impressive credentials and both were winners of major stakes races in their previous starts.

Both possessed speed figures that suggesting they'd be very competitive with the rest of the field and both sported stamina-laden pedigrees indicating they'd handle the 1 1/4-mile trip. Somehow though, both runners got lost in the sound and fury that defines the Kentucky Derby and went to post at extremely generous odds. Bettors who stayed true to basic handicapping principles in those years were rewarded handsomely with 20/1 on Animal Kingdom and 15/1 on I'll Have Another.

2017 Kentucky Derby Long Shots Bodog
Kentucky Derby Future Odds 2017

While those are great examples, it's certainly worth noting that one doesn't have to be a great handicapper or regular horse player to cash big on the Kentucky Derby. The race is already analyzed, scrutinized, and analyzed again by every major media outlet. In short, it's not hard to gather useful information about each runner. Conducting a quick internet search can turn up some great free picks from experts who follow the sport year-round. 

Develop a Betting Plan

Whether inexperienced or advanced, it only makes sense that you have a betting plan before you wager your money. Conventional betting is easy for anyone to understand and consists of the following three wagers:

  • WIN - Means the horse you bet must win the race. Payouts are determined by final odds. 
  • PLACE - Means your horse may win or run second. This bet allows some leeway for those who are leery of another runner or two in the field. Payouts are dictated by which horses finish first or second. For example, a winning place bet will pay less if the favorite in the race runs first or second regardless of your betting interest. 
  • SHOW - Means your horse may finish first, second or third. As with place betting, payouts are larger when favorites finish out of the top three. 

Those seeking bigger fortunes are certainly enticed by exotic bets that can have huge returns on Kentucky Derby day. Here's a quick look at some of the more popular exotics and how they work:

  • EXACTA - This bet remains extremely popular with novice bettors and advanced players alike. The object is to select the top two finishers in "exact" order, hence the name. "Boxing" the wager is a common strategy and allows the player to select all combinations of the horses they bet to finish 1-2. In 2005 when 50-1 longshot Giacomo won the Derby and fellow longshot Closing Argument ran second at 70-1, the $2 exacta returned $9,814.40. Based on that outcome alone, the exacta is worth throwing a couple dollars at each year. 
  • TRIFECTA- An extension of the exacta where bettors select the top three finishers in a race
  • SUPERFECTA - Select the top four finishers in a race

    The daily double, pick three, pick four and pick 6 wagers are all multi-race bets where players can use several horses on a single ticket. It must have the winning horse to advance to the next "leg" or race of the bet. When considering Kentucky Derby bets, there's really not right or wrong approach as long as players do a little bit of homework and stick to a budget. With the right combos and a little luck, the same bettor could walk away from Churchill Downs with stacks of cash.  

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